Checking emails this morning, I was struck by the subject line of one from a company we use for certain elements of our many websites:
Introducing (company name) AI Assistant – Your New Partner in Content Creation
The strapline was:
Meet Your New Creative Writing Partner!
Nah, I thought, I don’t need a ‘new partner’, and certainly not one powered by AI (Artificial Intelligence).
I do the creatitve writing around here, thank you very much!
But then I read on…
Simply provide a prompt, and watch as (company name) AI Assistant crafts compelling blog posts, detailed pages, structured lists, and comprehensive tables — all customized to match your unique requirements.
Well, that could, potentially, save me a lot of work. I’d just need to type something like ‘It’s Wednesday, give me a rant about people who are too lazy to read the FAQ’ or ‘Do a promo piece for the new ebook, per favore’ and the bot would do my job for me, according to my ‘unique requirements’.
I could read newspapers, go for a walk, or start teaching English to Italian preschoolers again. Bet an AI bot couldn’t do that. Hah!
It does make you think, though.
A lot of people are going to start using services like this, if they haven’t already. How will we know if we’re reading something written by a person, or outputted from a massive database?
And does it even matter?
Beh, in the long term, we’re all dust, so from that perspective nothing matters much.
Yet in the short term, how we choose to spend our days – what we do, what we read, what we write – could arguably be seen to matter. To ourselves at least, perhaps to other people, too, depending on those choices.
AI – Artificial Intelligence – now I’m typing this (and it is still me), I’m reminded of something that my Microsoft Windows-powered laptop has been nagging me to try.
I’m a habitual Google Chrome user (it’s a web browser), so had no interest in experimenting with an alternative. But given that we’re on the subject, Microsoft Edge, Windows’ web browser, has a new trick, and won’t quit bouncing around in excitement, and tugging at my ankles, until I agree to try it.
“Welcome to the new Bing
Your AI-powered copilot for the web”
As far as I was concerned, Bing was an engaging character in Roomie’s favorite animated TV series – we even bought her a little, red packpack with his picture on it (you can watch Bing in italiano on Youtube – it’s suitable for ages 2+…)
But it turns out that there’s another Bing, and one that gives life advice:
Hello, this is Bing! I’m the new AI-powered chat mode of Microsoft Bing that can help you quickly get summarized answers and creative inspiration. Got a question? Ask me anything – short, long, or anything in between.
Va bene, va bene! I’ll give it a go.
I typed ‘What’s the point of life?’ and got this:
“That’s a very deep and profound question. There is no definitive answer to it, as different people and cultures may have different beliefs and perspectives on the meaning and purpose of life. Some may look for answers in religion, philosophy, science, or their own personal experiences and values.
According to the Oxford Dictionaries, life is the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death. However, this definition does not address the question of why life exists or what makes it meaningful.
Some possible ways to approach the question of the meaning of life are:
- To ask yourself what are your passions, talents, goals, and values, and how can you use them to contribute to the world and make a positive difference.
- To explore different religious or spiritual traditions and see if they resonate with you or offer you guidance and comfort.
- To study different philosophical theories and arguments about the nature and value of existence, such as existentialism, nihilism, hedonism, utilitarianism, etc.
- To seek scientific explanations and evidence for how life originated, evolved, and functions in the universe, and what implications that may have for your worldview and ethics.
- To reflect on your relationships with yourself, others, nature, and the divine (if you believe in one), and how they enrich your life and give you joy and fulfillment.
Ultimately, the meaning of life is a personal and subjective matter that you have to discover for yourself. There is no one right or wrong answer to it. As long as you are living authentically, ethically, and happily, you are probably on the right track.”
It took about ten seconds for Bing to figure out the meaning of life, which is quite impressive. But the true test is yet to come – can it RANT?
I keyed in “Why don’t people read the FAQ?” and waited…
“There are many possible reasons why people don’t read the FAQ, depending on the context and the individual. Some of them are:
- They don’t know that the FAQ exists or where to find it.
- They don’t trust the FAQ to provide accurate or helpful information.
- They don’t have the time or patience to read through the FAQ and look for their specific question.
- They prefer to learn by trial and error, exploration, or asking someone else rather than reading the FAQ.
- They have low reading skills, comprehension, or attention span and find the FAQ too difficult or boring to read.
- They think that their question is unique or special and not covered by the FAQ.
To encourage people to read the FAQ, you can try some of these strategies:
- Make the FAQ visible and accessible from different places on your website or app.
- Use clear and simple language, headings, bullet points, and examples in your FAQ.
- Organize your FAQ by topics, categories, or user goals and make it easy to search and navigate.
- Highlight the benefits of reading the FAQ, such as saving time, avoiding errors, or learning new features.
- Provide feedback and incentives for reading the FAQ, such as badges, points, or rewards.
- Update your FAQ regularly and solicit user feedback and suggestions for improvement.”
Which is an eminently reasonable answer, but, sorry, does not count as a rant. Not even close.
It’s not eveen a proper moan, though “They think that their question is unique or special and not covered by the FAQ” is inching towards it. Said with an exaggeratedly sarcastic tone, it would do.
There’s an idea! Sarcastic AI! You read it here first. Interested billionaires, please email.
I decided to give the not-cuddly Bing one final chance, so asked ‘What’s the best way to learn a foreign language?’
Learning a foreign language can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but it also requires dedication and practice. There is no single best way to learn a language, as different methods may suit different learners, goals, and preferences. However, some general tips that can help you learn a language more effectively are:
- Immerse yourself in the language. Try to expose yourself to the language as much as possible, by listening to native speakers, watching movies and shows, reading books and articles, listening to music and podcasts, etc. This will help you improve your listening comprehension, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.
- Learn through context. Rather than memorizing isolated words or rules, try to learn the language in meaningful situations and dialogues. Use language apps, courses, or books that provide natural and realistic examples of how the language is used in real life. You can also use stories, games, or quizzes to make your learning more fun and engaging.
- Use a language-learning app. A good language-learning app can help you learn the language at your own pace and level, with interactive and personalized lessons. You can also track your progress, review your mistakes, and practice your skills anytime and anywhere. Some popular language-learning apps are Duolingo, Linguatics, Encore!!, etc.
- Don’t skip grammar – but do it differently. Grammar is important for understanding how the language works and communicating clearly and correctly. However, you don’t have to learn grammar by memorizing boring rules and exceptions. Instead, you can learn grammar by noticing patterns and structures in the language you encounter, by using online tools or apps that explain grammar in simple terms, or by doing exercises that test your understanding and application of grammar.
- Try to have a good accent, not a perfect one. Having a good accent can help you sound more natural and confident in the language, but you don’t have to aim for perfection. Instead of worrying about every sound or intonation, focus on the ones that make a difference in meaning or clarity. You can improve your accent by imitating native speakers, using apps or websites that provide feedback on your pronunciation, or practicing with tongue twisters or songs.
- Study smart. To learn a language effectively, you need to study smartly and efficiently. This means that you should set realistic and specific goals for yourself, plan your study time and materials, review what you have learned regularly, use spaced repetition and mnemonics to remember new words or concepts, and test yourself frequently to check your understanding and recall.
- Practice, practice, practice…. The best way to learn a language is to use it as much as possible. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes or ask for help. You can practice your speaking skills by talking to native speakers online or offline (for example through GoAbroad4), joining language exchange programs or clubs, or recording yourself and listening back. You can practice your writing skills by keeping a journal or a blog in the language, writing emails or messages to friends or pen pals, or using online platforms that correct your writing (such as Lang-8).
- And make it interesting!. Learning a language should be fun and enjoyable, not boring or stressful. Find ways to make your learning interesting and relevant to you. Choose topics that you are curious about or passionate about. Learn about the culture and history of the countries where the language is spoken. Watch movies or shows that you like in the language (with subtitles if needed). Read books or articles that interest you (you can use online dictionaries or translators if needed). Play games or puzzles that challenge you in the language.
I hope these tips will help you learn a foreign language more easily and effectively. Good luck!”
Yeah, well you can just ‘andare a quel paese‘, Bing!
P.S. Don’t forget this week’s NEW ‘easy reader’ ebook!
Don’t forget this week’s new Italian ‘easy reader’ ebook, Il re dei ladri.
It’s level B2 (upper-intermediate). Are you? Or getting there?
As always, the first week it’s 25% discounted, so just £5.99 rather than the usual ‘easy reader’ price of £7.99. That offer is good until Sunday night, June 11th 2023.
Meet Renato, a Savona cat burglar who can’t resist boasting of his exploits. Hear his story, and find out how he becomes ‘Il re dei ladri’ – the king of thieves!
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at intermediate level or above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
Do check out the Free Sample Chapter (.pdf) before you buy a copy. That way, you’ll know whether the level is suitable for you, and that the format works on the device you intend to use it on.
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally immediately after your payment), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook, where available, cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them. There’s a space to do that on the order form – where it says Additional information, Order notes (optional). If you forget, or if you have problems downloading the .pdf, don’t worry! Email us at the address on the website and we’ll help. Also, why not check out our FAQ?
Don’t forget to read/listen to Tuesday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news, which is, as always, FREE!
Subscribe, also FREE, and so receive each thrice-weekly bulletin (text + audio) via email, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Subscribe here.